OS Landranger Sheet: 101
Mainly north, with east and west facing sections.
Approach time: 10 minutes
Mini Guide: Filey Mini Guide (PDF)
Filey from the air
Situation and Character
The crag is situated on the north side of a rocky peninsular, about one mile north of the town of Filey, a seaside resort on the east coast. The cliffs are quite short, up to 15 metres, but are often extremely steep. Fortunately, most of the climbs are well supplied with jugs and it is difficult to think of another venue where rock so steep can be climbed at such a reasonable standard. The rock is banded and varies from pure sandstone to pure limestone, through all sorts of hybrids in between. On most of the climbs described, the rock is reliable but a wary eye should be kept to watch out for the odd loose block or brittle hold.
Although there are east and west facing sections, the cliffs in general face north and the Brigg is a cold place outside the summer months. The sea-level platform is also very slippery out of season. For a first visit, pick a nice warm day, preferably with a south wind. It is particularly good on a calm summer evening, when much of the cliff receives sunshine.
Access to some of the cliffs is affected by the tides. References to access below, assume that the sea is fairly calm. In rough seas the whole area should be avoided. Tide times and weather forecasts are available on the Scarborough Borough Council website. Some national newspapers include Teesport or Scarborough in their daily listings of tide times; adding an hour or 10 minutes respectively, will give a good indication of what to expect at Filey Brigg.
Like many venues in climbing backwaters, the history of Filey Brigg is far from certain. Perhaps, the publication of this account will encourage currently unknown explorers to come forward with details of their exploits.
What is known is that John Redhead and Chris Shorter visited the cliffs in the mid-1970s when they both lived in Hull. They were joined in their explorations by school friends and a number of the younger members of the East Yorkshire Mountaineering Club. Most of the easier routes on the Main and Lobster Walls were ascended, along with some more ambitious climbs on High Nab, which have unfortunately been affected by rockfall. Shortly afterwards, both John and Chris moved to North Wales and climbing activities at Filey appear to have stopped.
In January 2000, Chris Shorter visited Filey again after a 25-year gap. He now lived on Teesside and had been enjoying sport climbing in Britain and Europe for a number of years. Shorter recalled that John Redhead and himself had been repelled by a number of very steep walls and wondered whether these might provide the raw materials for a sport-climbing venue. The visit proved fruitful; Shorter didn’t find the East Coast Portland that he had hoped for but did discover enough very steep rock for thirty or forty sport-climbs. A list of around six “Filey Super Routes” was compiled of the more obvious better lines and Shorter departed home to begin to amass the equipment for a prolonged bolting campaign. On a raw winter day in early March, Shorter managed to persuade his long-suffering wife Ruth to accompany him to Filey and the first two routes were bolted. The following day, Shorter returned with Dave Fitzsimons and Tony Holdsworth and It’s No Crime (To Bolt a Line) and A Short Ride in a Fast Machine were ascended, along with the traditionally protected Dave’s Arête, which was led by Fitzsimons. A fortnight later, the first of the Filey Super Routes was climbed with Behold, the Sea! by Shorter, who went on to do an on-sight first ascent of Laurie Lee the same weekend.
It soon became clear that there was considerable scope at Filey for exceptionally steep, but relatively modestly graded, sport-climbs. The resin bolting of rock that overhung by forty-five degrees or more was a slow process and a number of people assisted during the year: Dan and Tony Holdsworth, Mark Medley, Dave Fitzsimons and others. Springtime was ascended by Shorter just before the Mayday holiday and, at F7a+, was easily the hardest route so far. Andy Norton stayed with Shorter for a week and provided a useful youthful impetus to proceedings, assisting with the bolting and creating a number of test-pieces of his own: Phallic Vein, Test of Youth and, And Then She Broke Me were the most notable. Shorter bagged John Major, The Punto Boys, The Girlie Button and others during the same week.
Following Norton’s visit new route activity quietened down. After three days preparation, Shorter managed to complete his “7b project” up the centre of the Left-Hand Queen’s Pool Wall, which overhung by over fifty degrees; Watkin’s Ale proved to be much easier than expected and has become very popular.
The next notable event was the first ascent of The Last Hurrah, the last line on the list of Filey Super Routes. Outrageously steep even by Filey standards, The Last Hurrah again proved to be relatively easy and Chris Shorter revelled in its juggy delights, before shepherding his boss Tony Holdsworth to the cliff top.
After 2000, 2001 was something of an anti-climax. The cliffs remained open during the Foot and Mouth crisis and many of the previous year’s routes were repeated. Most of the new route activity was confined to plugging the obvious gaps on the Lobster Wall; whilst these lacked the quality of the Super Routes, many provided good climbing on some of the best rock at Filey. More significant was Dave Fitzsimons’s The Lactic Acid Bath, a long stamina test piece; Dave flashed it, after waiting patiently whilst an unfit Chris Shorter tired himself out on it. During the August Bank Holiday, Chris Shorter made the first ascent of the excellent Smooth Torquer, on the previously unclimbed Empress Pool Walls, an area with considerable scope for the future.
It is unlikely that the development of Filey Brigg is anything like complete. There are still a number of obvious challenges for those who are willing to put in the work.
Access and Approaches
From Filey follow signs to the North Cliff Country Park at the north end of Filey Bay. “Pay and Display” machines will be found at the entrance to the park; Council officials do make regular checks and so payment is strongly advised. Follow the road, past a cafe and toilets, across a grassy open area and park in a tarmacced area at the northeast corner. Those not wishing to pay will have a long walk, as in summer parking in most of the north end of Filey is either prohibited or chargeable.
From the northeast corner of the car park, a gated track heads out on to Carr Naze before swinging right towards Filey Brigg. After a few hundred metres, a cliff can be seen down to the left; this is High Nab. The view is most discouraging but be assured that the cliffs are much better than they first appear. Continue along to a fence, which runs beside the path. A path drops down to the right to the beach but continue straight ahead. When the fence ends, follow the cliff edge to the left until a concrete block with a large rusty staple is found; from here the top of a ladder, at the edge of the cliff-proper, can be seen below. Carefully climb down the muddy slopes to the top of the ladder. Descend the ladder. The base of the ladder is between the sport routes of the Queen’s Pool Right Wall to the left (facing in) and the traditional routes on the Main Wall to the right. The ledges at the base of both these areas are non-tidal in normal seas.
For the Queen’s Pool Left Wall and the Lobster Wall routes, cross the platform in front of the Queen’s Pool and scramble up on to ledges on the far side. At high tide, waves do sometimes cross the platform in front of the Queen’s Pool. The Queen’s Pool Left Wall is immediately above the pool and the Lobster Wall is the long cliff around the corner to the left.
For Plateau and the Empress Pool Walls, cross the platform to the west below the Main Wall and pass on the seaward side of the Empress Pool, or scramble round behind it if the sea is threatening. Plateau is the small headland. The starting ledges are above high tide but then the access across the platform in front of the Empress Pool is usually impassable. The Empress Pool Walls run back to the left of Plateau behind the pool and eventually join the end of the Main Wall.
For High Nab, continue along the platform past Plateau, in front of an area of water known as the “Cock ‘n Hen Hole” and follow ledges out to a fine terrace on the front of the obvious large steep buttress. The Last Hurrah and Laurie Lee both start from this ledge. The crossing of the Cock ‘n Hen Hole is usually difficult beyond half tide. Alternatively, there is another ladder, which is situated about 400 metres to the west of the Queen’s Pool ladder. This ladder is in poor condition but leads to the cliff base about 75 metres west of the High Nab starting ledge; the platform can be easily traversed from mid-tide.
The attitude of the landowners towards climbing is not known but no access difficulties have been encountered.
Fishermen ply their sport both off the platforms at the base of the cliffs and, at high tide, from the cliff tops. Fish are rarely caught but this seems not to affect their enjoyment. Relations with fishermen have always been cordial and efforts should be made to ensure that this continues. Take care not to drop anything when climbing above fishermen and watch out for their hooks when climbing below them.
Bird watchers also frequent the area. The birds do not appear to be interested in nesting on any of the described climbs but do not climb any route, which does have nesting birds. There is no formal bird-ban agreement in place.
The Brigg has been developed as a mixed sport and traditionally protected area. The bolts on the sport climbs are currently in good condition but will obviously deteriorate with time. All the bolted routes, except for those on the Queen’s Pool Right-Wall and Bare Knuckle Fighting, are equipped with “Filey Rods”, which are 12mm x 160mm stainless steel threaded rods, glued in with Hilti resin mortar; a stainless hanger, nut and washer completes the placement. Filey rods appear to be fairly resistant to corrosion and provide far greater security than standard glue-ins in less than perfect rock. For the sport routes it is important to belay close to bottom of the climb to avoid any unnecessary pull on the first anchor and this is especially important for It’s No Crime where the first bolt is in soft rock and is a Petzl glue-in, rather than the much more substantial Filey rod type.
The sport-routes are graded using the French system in use throughout much of Europe. Filey routes tend to be short but very steep and so the climbing has proved to be difficult to compare with that in other areas. Expect the grades to feel stiff until you are familiar with the style of climbing.
Many of the traditionally protected climbs rely on bolts to belay on the cliff top. For these routes a good selection of medium to large camming devices and Hex’s are useful for protection in horizontal breaks. Make sure that any gear that you place is in well; the rock is mainly reliable but shallow placements can break.
Most parties will access the climbing via the ladder beside the Queen’s Pool and so the routes to the east of the ladder are described right to left and those to the west left to right.
CLIMBS EAST OF THE LADDER
Main Wall Left End
The ladder descends the left-hand end of the Main Wall. There are two climbs between the ladder and the left end of the Main Wall:
1. Shorter’s Folly VS 4c
A metre to the left of the ladder is a short thin flaky crack. Gain the crack and continue over the bulge above with a long reach.
Chris Shorter and friends c1976
2. It’s No Crime (To Bolt a Line) F6a *
Just before the end of the Main Wall is a bulging line marked with two Petzl bolts. Start from a ledge directly below the line and ascend with powerful moves between jugs. If needed, there is a nut placement in the run-out above the top bolt.
Chris Shorter, Dave Fitzsimons, Tony Holdsworth (all led) 11th March 2000. The first of the Filey sport routes.
Queen’s Pool Right-Hand
The ledge below It’s No Crime continues round the corner to the left below a very steep wall, which is home to six bolted climbs.
3. Pretty Ring Time F6b
Start just to the left of the arête. Reach a thin horizontal break and swing right to the arête. Pull back up to the left to a big jug and power up the right-hand side of the arête above. Brutal.
Chris Shorter 21st April 2000.
4. A Short Ride in a Fast Machine F6b+ *
Three closely spaced Petzl bolts mark the line. A hard finish.
Chris Shorter, Dave Fitzsimons (both led) and Tony Holdsworth 11th March 2000
5. Springtime F7a+ ***
The next line to the left starts easily on jugs but the holds soon shrink dramatically. The last move is the crux and may yield to some well-timed springing.
Chris Shorter 21st April 2000. The first spring was not well-timed and Shorter took a large plunge, much to the amusement of a large group of fishermen, one of whom exclaimed in a broad Geordie accent, “Man, I thought thee were a goner!”
6. All At Sea F6c *
To the left of Springtime is a similar line. Follow jugs to the second bolt. Climb up then swing left on to the big jug above the large roof on Behold, the Sea!, up which it finishes.
Chris Shorter 30th April 2000.
7. Test of Youth F7b
For those with abundant youthful energy, start up All At Sea to the big jug on Behold, the Sea!. Make desperate moves up and right past another bolt.
Andy Norton 30th April 2000. Bolted by Chris Shorter, who found the route beyond his ageing powers and so he gave it to Norton who was half his age.
8. Behold, The Sea! F6c+ ***
The multi-roofed corner at the left end of the wall. Big jugs on all but one move.
Chris Shorter 25th March 2000. Bolted earlier in the week at high tide in a storm; Shorter drilled whilst the waves smashed in to the back of the cliff beneath him.
Queen’s Pool Left Wall
9. Watkin’s Ale F6b+ ***
About halfway along the left wall is a line of phenomenal steepness with four bolts. Climb ever-steepening rock, roll on to the cliff top and start celebrating! Classic. No other route in the country climbs rock so steep at this grade.
Chris Shorter 25th May 2000. “Come on Mark, it’s easy, only 6a+!”; Shorter, after completing the first ascent, offering encouragement to Mark Medley, whose efforts were unfortunately in vain.
10. .....And Then She Broke Me F7a **
Near the left end of the wall, a groove passes through the top roof. Climb to just below the roof and continue with difficulty. Unusually technical for a Filey route.
Andy Norton, Chris Shorter (both led) 29th April 2000. The young man had just discovered truelove.
The Lobster Wall
The belays on the terrace above the Lobster Wall occasionally get their hangers stolen. Take a couple of 12mm hangers and M12 nuts or be prepared to improvise.
11. Nikolaus Harnoncourt F6a *
Start under the large roof at the right hand end of the Lobster Wall, swing up and left to pass the roof. Finish direct, with no sneaking off left for a rest. A good warm-up.
Chris Shorter, Dave Fitzsimons (both led) 29th April 2001.
12. The Imaginary Hold II 6a+ *
To the left of Nikolaus Harnoncourt is a roof with two bolts. Climb to the overhang, pull round it and make a hard move to the next break. Ascend the wall slightly to the right.
Chris Shorter, Dave Richardson, Dave Fitzsimons (all led), and Mike Jones 22nd April 2001. This replaced a John Redhead VS, The Imaginary Hold, which appears to have undergone some major change since its first ascent. The Long Reach (VS) and The Diagonal (S) took the roof to the right.
13. The Punto Boys F6b **
To the left is a flowstone-covered slab above a one-metre roof. Three bolts mark the line. Harder than it looks.
Chris Shorter, Andy Norton (both led) 1st May 2000
Immediately to the left of The Punto Boys are three short bolted routes, starting from a higher ledge. These appear to be easy and insignificant but are all quite hard and will give hours of innocent fun to anyone who underestimates them.
14. The Trial of Harmony and Invention F6a+
The right-hand line.
Chris Shorter 6th May 2001
15. The Leap of the Imagination F6b+
The middle one over the roof.
Dave Fitzsimons, Chris Shorter (both led) 22nd April 2001
16. Free for All F7a+?
The line on the left is still a project.
“I've had enough of it and so it can now be considered to be an "open" project; good luck!”: Chris Shorter May 2001
FA Franco Cookson,
Dave Warburton 2nd July 2009
About 20 metres to the left, past a broken area of cliff, is an overhanging prow with a number of bolted routes.
17. The Cutting Edge F6a
Climb the right-hand line through a gap in the top overhang. Take care as the left side of the overhang is scalpel-sharp. Sandy at present. Three bolts.
Chris Shorter, Dave Fitzsimons (both led) 20th May 2001.
18. The Lactic Acid Bath F6c **
The Filey stamina test piece. Start as for The Cutting Edge, finger traverse left in to Betty Dodson and clip the top bolt. Continue leftwards with a difficult move to gain Diogenes and a very welcome resting place. More traversing, and one hard move, gains blessed relief on the cliff top in the region of Ampedextroid’s Right-Hand. Very pumpy. 7 bolts protect, along with Friends 3 and 4 in Diogenes.
Dave Fitzsimons 23rd June 2001.
19. Betty Dodson F7a
The right hand line via the obvious big side pull. The holds on the initial bulge are brittle and the climb might be rather temporary at this grade.
Chris Shorter 7th May 2000.
20. The Girlie Button F6c ***
The central line over the large roof. Considerable interest the whole way.
Chris Shorter, Andy Norton (both led) 1st May 2000. The culmination of a very profitable week.
21. Ralph Vaughan Williams F6c **
The left-hand line with two roofs is hard at the beginning and at the end. The bit in the middle is not easy either!
Chris Shorter, Tony Holdsworth 18th June 2000.
22. Diogenes HVS 5b *
The roof to the left of the bolted routes is split by a crack. Gain the crack from down on the left (bolt on Sir Adrian Boult now protects) and pull over the roof on good holds. Reachy.
John Redhead, Chris Shorter mid-1970s
There are two bolted routes to the left of Diogenes:
23. Sir Adrian Boult F6b *
Start at the same point as Diogenes clipping its first bolt but climb directly up to and over the roof. The holds above the roof are hard to find on-sight.
Chris Shorter 27th May 2001
24. Sir Bernard Haitink F6a *
The left-hand line is a pleasant introduction to Filey as it is only slightly overhanging.
Chris Shorter 27th May 2001
The next two routes provide a useful escape if you can no longer lock-off on any of the sport-routes and are cut off by the tide. Note; they do not start in the same place.
25. Ampedextroid’s Righthand S
Make a stiff pull over the overhang for a jug and continue direct.
probably Chris Shorter mid-1970s.
26. Ampedextroid’s Route VD
Walk left along a series of high-level ledges. Pull over the overhang where there is an obvious foothold to rock-over on to. Finish easily.
Past Ampedextroid’s Route the ledge narrows considerably and then widens again. There is a pair of bolted routes up a grey tower. These routes tend to stay damp; pick a sunny morning with the tide well out for the best conditions.
27. John Major F6b+ *
The right hand line.
Chris Shorter, Andy Norton (both led) 1st May 2000.
28. Phallic Vein F7a **
The left hand line.
Andy Norton 1st May 2000.
Left again is an arête and a fine east-facing wall split by an obvious crack. The following route takes the thinner crack to the right.
29. Rock Tectonics E2 5c
Start just to the left of Phallic Vein. Climb to and follow the handrail that crosses the roof to the left. Pull in to the thin crack (some loose rock) and follow it to the top. Serious. A bolt on Bare Knuckle Fighting can be clipped but was not there when the first ascent was completed.
Andy Norton, Chris Shorter, Dan Holdsworth 27th April 2000. All members of the party took falls!
The start of the following routes may not be accessible at some high tides:
30. The Crack S
The obvious crack. Either scramble up ledges that lead up to the base of the crack from the left or ascend the overhangs directly below it. Follow the crack exiting right at the top.
Unknown. Chris Shorter and John Redhead ascended this in the mid-1970s and found an old wooden wedge in the crack.
31. The Crack Variation Finish VS 4b
From the top of the crack, traverse delicately left to a thinner crack and climb it. Often wet.
Chris Shorter and friends mid-1970s.
32. Bare Knuckle Fighting F4
Follow The Crack to the base of the crack. Traverse right across the wall (three bolts) to the arête. Climb the arête.
Chris Shorter, Andy Norton, Dan Holdsworth 27th April 2000. Shorter skinned his knuckles placing the bolts and the rock was covered in blood.
Further left the cliff continues but, regrettably, a mud slope above regularly slumps over it. At mid to low tide it is possible to cross the platform below the cliff to reach the end of the Brigg and an alternative path back to the car park.
CLIMBS WEST OF THE LADDER
Main Wall Right End
33. Premiere D
About ten metres right of the ladder is crack line with a number of rusty fitments, which mark the line of an old ladder. Climb the line, by-passing the overhang to the right.
34. The Battle of the Bulge VD
Ascends the wall between Premiere and the next crack to the right (Nonentity). Go up to the bulge and pass it using an obvious hold on the lip. Climb diagonally left to finish.
Chris Shorter, John Redhead mid-1970s.
35. Nonentity D
Climb the next crack/chimney line to the right.
36. Nonentity Right-hand Finish VD
From near the top of Nonentity, traverse right above overhangs and then finish directly. Exposed.
Chris Shorter and friends mid-1970s.
Moving right-wards, the next obvious feature is the large angled corner that is taken by RIP. The next five routes take the walls and overhangs between Nonentity and RIP.
37. The Chaffer VS 4c
Begin just to the right of Nonentity and reach a hold above the overhang. Pull up and mantelshelf on to a traverse line which leads right to a ledge on a slight arête. Finish up the groove above.
First ascent: John Redhead mid-1970s.
38. Chaffer Variation Finish VS 4c
From the ledge on the slight arête, traverse back left above the roof to where the top overhang relents. Finish through the gap or continue left.
John Redhead mid-1970s.
39. The Eliminate HVS 5a
Start as for The Chaffer but continue direct to join the variation finish at the break in the top overhang.
Worthwhile climbing but easily escapable to the right.
John Redhead mid-1970s.
40. I Should Have Known Better VS 4b
Start below and right of the ledge on the slight arête on The Chaffer. Climb to the overhang and swing left to the ledge on the slight arête. Finish up the groove, or move a little right and continue up walls and overhangs to a brittle finish.
Chris Shorter, John Redhead mid-1970s.
41. The Pocket VS 4c *
This powers its way through overhangs about three metres to the left of RIP. Climb to the overhangs and pass them just to the right of a thin vertical crack. The pocket is near the top and is a particularly useful feature.
John Redhead, Nick Moore mid 1970s.
42. RIP S
Takes the obvious angled groove.
43. The Winchman VS 4b *
Start near RIP but head for the large roof on the right. Swing right along the roof, pull up in to a juggy overhanging groove and finish quickly. Bold.
Chris Shorter, Nick Moore mid-1970s. The Winchman and The Pocket had simultaneous on-sight first ascents and poor Nick had to hold both sets of ropes as the holds rained down! He then had to suffer the indignity of getting dragged bodily up both routes.
44. Overhanging Bastion VS 4b *
Start around ten metres to the right of RIP. Up through several small roofs to a niche below the top roof. Escape right-wards or take the Slip Up finish.
Chris Shorter and friend’s mid-1970s.
45. Slip Up VS 4c
Follow Overhanging Bastion to the niche. Reach up left for a well-shaped hold of dubious stability and swing over the top roof direct. Thrilling!
Chris Shorter and friend’s mid-1970s.
46. Surfing USA HS
Start five metres right of Overhanging Bastion below a pointed overhang on the cliff top. Climb directly to the pointed overhang and turn it on the left. The grade of this route should be treated with caution, as there have not been any recent ascents.
John Redhead, Chris Shorter mid-1970s.
47. Dives VD
The start is difficult to locate but it is to the right of Surfing USA where the ledge starts to narrow. Pull over a little overhang in to a small groove, which is followed until an awkward move right gains a small ledge. Step left on to another ledge and continue to the top.
48. Snorkel D
A rambling route to the right of Dives. The cliff here is fairly broken and so it is best to pick your own line and wander at will. Several pleasant lines in the D to VD range can be climbed.
49. Apple Crumble VS
Takes the right arête of the Main Wall. Start on a lower ledge, down and right of the arête, on the Empress Pool side. Boulder up the initial wall to the large ledge (several ways). Move left round the arête and ascend the overhang on well-shaped, but dubious, hand holds.
John Redhead, Chris Shorter mid-1970s.
Empress Pool Walls
The short cliff behind the Empress Pool consists of a long semicircular roof. The right-hand wall is a suntrap until about 1pm and presently has five routes.
50. Smooth Torquer F6c+ **
Takes the impending wall above the huge block jammed in the overhang. Fine moves on jugs, jams and heel hooks. Four bolts.
Chris Shorter 27th August 2001.
51. Fighting Torque F6c+ **
The line over the roofs above the right-hand end of the huge jammed block, via the hanging flake. There is a powerful final move, which the strong will find easy but will prove to be an insurmountable obstacle for the less well-endowed.
First ascent: Chris Shorter 4th November 2001.
Shop F7b *
52. Fat Boy Slim F6b *
The roof, groove and rib just to the left of The Wanderer.
Chris Shorter, Dan Holdsworth, Tony Holdsworth (all led) 13th October 2001. The name reflects the varied physical stature of the first ascentionists.
53. The Wanderer S
Start near the right-hand end of the wall. Climb up to a traverse line, which leads out to the right below an overhang. Climb through a break in the overhang and move left to finish.
John Redhead, Chris Shorter mid-1970s.
On the front of the headland beside the Empress Pool are two steep arêtes separated by easier terrain.
54. Hangover VS 4b
Ascends the easterly arête. Climb the impending wall to the roof. Swing over the roof at its left-hand end and gain a ledge above. Finish easily.
Chris Shorter and friends mid-1970s
55. Tall Story Teller’s Route D
Climb the left-hand of the easy lines in the middle of the buttress. Sometimes soloed by fishermen in wellies, complete with fishing rods and tackle boxes!
Traditional. In the mid-1970s, a fisherman told Chris Shorter that Chris Bonnington and Dougal Haston had developed the cliffs. The fisherman was later seen soloing this climb when he went home at the end of the day.
56. Same Old Story D
Climb the groove just to the right of the previous route.
57. Dave’s Arête E1 5b *
Start at the right-hand side of the ledge below the overhanging arête. Up the steep wall aiming for a groove, which passes through the top roofs. Enter the groove with difficulty and finish more easily. A good selection of small and medium camming devices is advised.
Dave Fitzsimons, Chris Shorter 11th March 2000
To the right of the arête is a wall with plenty of roofs. No routes have been done at present.
Cock ‘N Hen Hole Cliffs
These are all unclimbed. The mud slope comes right up to the cliff edge and slumps regularly after wet weather, making the area unsuitable for climbing.
This is the highest area of cliff at Filey but it is far from being fully developed. The next route is often made damp by spray, although it gets plenty of morning sun. For an ascent, pick a bright day with an early morning low tide, which should give good conditions by lunchtime. The belay bolts are in the back wall of the terrace above the cliff; there are also some older ones nearer the edge but these should not be used.
58. The Last Hurrah F6b+ ***
Start on the left-hand side of the terrace mentioned in the access section. A prominent undercut shelf at ten feet, with a bolt just below, marks the place. It is best to start to right of the first bolt by making a small jump for the ledge. The start has been done directly past the bolt but this is much harder. Move left to the tip of the shelf and climb up to and over a roof to the halfway break. Hand traverse right for three metres and then straight up over the roof (crux) and a short wall to the top. (6 bolts) Brilliant situations and good holds make this one of the Brigg’s finest undertakings.
Chris Shorter, Tony Holdsworth 28th August 2000.
59. Laurie Lee E2 5c ***
Start from the good terrace. A short small undercut arête indicates the place. A hard pull up the arête leads to rounded breaks. Traverse right to a small ledge. Move back up left (some brittle holds) to an obvious good hold of dark rock (very welcome Friend placements above). Follow exposed breaks up left. Step round the arête and follow the short wall to the top. Well positioned with excellent climbing. Take plenty of medium cams.
Chris Shorter, Tony Holdsworth 26th March 2000. On-sight on a cold damp day, with insufficient equipment; the leader was left with a profound respect for regular on-sight first ascentionists such as Pat Littlejohn. Shorter thought that the route might only be HVS on a warm evening but Holdsworth considered it to be E4! Handle with care.
60. Der Erlkönig F5
To the right of the start of Laurie Lee is a thin left-facing groove. This was the start of a fine HVS called Echinoid Wall but the upper reaches now bear no resemblance to the original description and so it must concluded that a rock fall has affected this area. This route takes a similar line and is protected by four bolts. Boulder up to the first bolt (beware; this is in soft rock) and continue to the halfway ledge. Careful climbing around the capping overhang (a little to the left of the final bolt) will allow you to escape the clutches of Der Erlkönig. The presence of some remaining loose rock at the top makes this a more adventurous proposition than the grade might suggest.
Echinoid Wall first ascent: John Redhead, Chris Shorter mid-1970s
Der Erlkönig first ascent: Chris Shorter, Andy Brown, Dave Fitzsimons 26th July 2001. All led, the first two without incident, the latter with a long fall when he pulled off a large amount of loose rock and the rest of the party dived for cover!
Echinoid’s Mate (HVS) took the wall to the right but the upper reaches also appear to have undergone a change since the first ascent.
61. Fisherman’s Route D *
Above the right-hand side of the terrace is a large right-facing groove. Climb up in to the groove and move round on to the left arête. Climb diagonally left to the top. Can be well protected.
Traditional. Chris Shorter recalls seeing fishermen climb this in the 1970s but standards appear to have dropped since then as the current crop give it a wide birth.
62. Nameless VD
This lies almost exactly between the ledge below Laurie Lee and the western ladder. The letters IP faintly inscribed on the rock at shoulder height mark the start. Move up then traverse delicately right for about three metres. Make an awkward move up to good holds, which lead to the top.
John Redhead mid-1970s.
63. Crumbs VS
Start as for Nameless but climb directly up to the large ledge. Continue in the same line up overhanging rock with some dubious holds.
John Redhead mid-1970s.
The Western Ladder Wall
Several routes have been made on the rock between the ladder and the deep dirty zawn on the right, known locally as “The Black Hole”. All the routes (D to VS) are rather artificial as the wall is criss-crossed by ledges. The easiest routes avoid the overhangs, or take them at their smallest, and are generally closest to the ladder. Some interesting boulder problems can be made over the overhangs on the right using the “tits”.
The headland to the west of The Black Hole. There are no routes at present. The side of the headland is subject to mudslides but the front is clean and offers some possibilities in a fine position.
A fine traverse can be made (M to D). At around low tide cross the rocks in The Black Hole to reach a series of ledges leading out to a terrace on the front of John Story's. Descend a green groove to another ledge and traverse in to the bed of a cave. The rock architecture is worth seeing! Walk through the arch. At low tide it is possible to traverse a little further and then climb a groove to the cliff top (D). Otherwise, reverse the traverse to escape.
Cliffs West of John Story’s
These extensive large cliffs are unexplored but do not look pleasant. The mud slope comes right to the edge and the cliffs drop straight in to the sea. For most of the year there is a large seabird population. Further west a boulder beach appears but the cliffs are loose and rotten. There is an interesting fallen block slab of fine rough rock, which would provide four or five good routes but would take an hour to walk in to from Cayton Bay; if the walk doesn’t put you off, they’re yours!
Full details in the
North East England Guide